October 06, 2004

Is Iraq an Actor or a Subject?

Can Iraq do anything? This is the fundamental subject behind last night's debate sparring over whether the US takes 90% or 50% of the casualties. But it's a question that is more important than a simple debating point and goes far beyond Iraq.

Do Iraqis who wear a uniform and fight against terrorists count? The same thing could have been asked about France in WW II, S. Koreans during the Korean war, and S. Vietnam during the Vietnam war. The entire post war settlement with France being awarded a permanent seat on the Security Council very much depends on their "counting" during WW II. The only people who seem to be maintaining that S. Korea didn't (and still doesn't) count are their N. Korean opponents. As for the S. Vietnamese, the charge that they didn't count was not only a damning indictment, it was a sign that we were in a losing war.

So do the Iraqis count? Honestly, they need to be fit in on the military historical continuum somewhere and where they fit in seems like as good a predictor of the ultimate end of this war. Given the WW II example of France, saying that they count might even provide something more than a description but actual help in nudging them towards a better or worse future.

While the Bush administration is somewhat guilty of sending mixed messages on this subject (Iraqi government casualties aren't included in Coalition casualty counts) on the subject, Edwards went the extra yard by pretending that only the UN election personnel were running the elections in Iraq. While there seems to be a healthy dose of political calculation in Vice President Cheney's accusation of Sen Edwards contempt toward Iraqi sacrifices, there's also a great deal of substantive truth. Now if only Bush administration policy will rise to the level of Cheney debate rhetoric...

Posted by TMLutas at October 6, 2004 05:05 PM